Since implementing a new computer system, things have been a little hectic at school. Some students have 2 different classes for the same period; others have missing classes. I happened to be in the office trying to help some students with their mixed up schedules when I saw a parent registering her student. The student had formerly been in the AVID program. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) targets students who are generally underrepresented in going to college and teaches them strategies to be more successful in school. It provides mentors and tutors, and it also helps develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills. It’s an elective in our school, though many AVID trained teachers use techniques in their classroom to assist the students’ learning. It’s a powerful tool, especially for those students who want to improve but don’t really know how.
When the secretary told the mother the student positions had already been filled last spring through a selection process, the mother almost started to cry. She pleaded with the secretary to somehow get her child into the program. She stated over and over again how her student had gone from being a below-average student to being placed on the honor roll. When the overwhelmed secretary said she couldn’t guarantee anything, the mother’s shoulders sank.
The AVID teacher just happens to be a friend of mine, so I asked for the student’s name and told the mom I’d look into the situation and call her back. After checking with the AVID teacher and the counselor, we finagled a spot for him. I felt like Oprah when I called the mom to tell her he’d been accepted. She was so excited.
When programs like these work, it’s hard to believe we can’t create the funding to train all teachers to use the strategies in every class. We spend so much money on things that don’t really change instruction in meaningfully ways, yet we often don’t have the money left over to spend on things that work. For those of you out there who haven’t heard of AVID, check it out for your school or your student.
What other programs have you found that really work?